Janice Van Eck   r.g.d. / design collaboration + creative innovation


For me, design is ideally a collaborative process. That's why I asked Pamela Young, an editor I've done several projects with, to ask me a few questions:

Q: You say that white space doesn't scare you. How does this make you different from most people?

A: I don't know if most people are afraid of white space, but they do want to fill it. For me white space is a design element. It clarifies both the images and the text. It's like a visual break that allows the images and typography to stand out more effectively. I think this really became clear to me when I was working at [the architecture and design magazine] Azure. Modern design and modern architecture use a lot of flat planes and negative spaces.

Q: What's your idea of a great project?

A: One that has a decent budget — not an unlimited budget but a reasonable budget — a client who's interested in ideas, and a topic that I can really engage in. I like the idea of a project that involves collaboration. I've had opportunities to collaborate with many amazing and creative people whose skill sets are very different from my own, and that's always exciting for me. I like it when I can bring something to a project that the client doesn't already have.

Q: You've worked on a wide variety of projects for clients ranging from small non-profit organizations to major magazines. What would you say your best clients have in common?

A: My best clients aren't just looking for a technician: they're looking for what a designer can bring that's of value to their business. When I design editorial projects I read the stories; I'm engaged in the text. My job is to find the best way to communicate the message that the client is trying to get out — to reach their audience. I think you always have to think of the audience.

Q: What would your clients say your strengths are?

A: Even if a project concerns a topic I don't really know much about, I'll do research and I'll have ideas about how to communicate information to the client's audience. When someone I work with a lot introduced me recently to someone else, she said, "This is Janice, she just gets it. I don't have to explain it all to her." I think that's a real compliment. You become more valuable to your clients if you "get" what they're doing, and that includes understanding their goals, their budget parameters and their target audience.

Q: When you get right down to it, why are you a designer?

A: I love communication, visual and verbal. I enjoy the challenge of transforming the apparent chaos of words and images into something beautiful, connected and logical. To be honest, I guess I always want to put the world in order.

“ Collaboration is a good idea.”